|City of license||Detroit, Michigan|
|Broadcast area||Metro Detroit|
|Frequency||99.5 MHz (also on HD Radio)
99.5 HD-2: 99.5 HD The Wolf
99.5 HD-3: Muevete 99.5
|First air date||May 4, 1960|
|Callsign meaning||Young Country Detroit|
|Former callsigns||WABX (5/4/60-1/9/84)
(CBS Radio Inc. of Michigan)
|Sister stations||WDZH, WOMC, WWJ, WXYT, WXYT-FM
part of CBS Corp. cluster w/ TV stations WWJ-TV & WKBD-TV
WYCD (99.5 FM, "99.5 WYCD") is a radio station in Detroit, Michigan. The station is the only country music station in the Detroit area. WYCD's offices and studios are located on Woodward Heights (9½ Mile Rd). near Interstate 75 in Ferndale, Michigan. WYCD's transmitter is located in Royal Oak Township in Oakland County off Wyoming Avenue just north of the Detroit city limits.
WYCD is licensed for HD radio operations, it has two HD stations; 99.5-HD2 is named "99.5 HD The Wolf" and features new country hits. 99.5-HD3 is named "Muevete 99.5", and airs a Spanish Pop format.
Original use of the frequency
WABX was preceded on the 99.5 frequency in southeast Michigan by WCAR-FM in Pontiac, Michigan, the FM affiliate of WCAR-AM (now WDFN), in 1948. In 1956, WCAR moved from Pontiac to Detroit; the FM signal was dropped, leaving 99.5 FM open in Detroit. (In 1964, WCAR would buy WLIN-FM [92.3 FM] and rechristen that station WCAR-FM; it is now known as WMXD.) 
The station began broadcasting on May 4, 1960, as WABX, beginning as a classical music station before adopting the MOR format in 1964. For a short period beginning in August 1967, the station adopted an all-girl jock policy during the day, playing jazz-oriented pop music and humorous bits. The idea came from Mickey Shorr, who was program manager and creative director of Century Broadcasting Corp., the station's then-owner.
During the Fall of 1967, WABX began airing a new music show called "Troubadour" from seven to eight in the evening, hosted by station manager John Small. The show featured blues, folk, and rock music. During this time, WABX was still airing an MOR format, with an emphasis on up-tempo music from artists like Mel Tormé, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Wilson, and Joe Williams.
The strong, positive response generated by "Troubadour" was enough to convince the station's owners to adopt a full-time progressive rock format. On February 1, 1968, "play lists" of acceptable tunes went out: the DJs picked their own music, and Century Broadcasting Corporation bit its tongue. With a freeform progressive rock format, WABX became a springboard for the new music that no other station in the market (least of all CKLW and the other Top 40 stations) would touch.
The ABX revolution was one of style as well as sound. The station made itself a community catalyst for fun: free concerts and movies, kite-flys, bike-ins, and conferences. Also, the station played a role in giving many artists the recognition that they did not have at the time, including The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Iron Butterfly, and The J. Geils Band. The success of WABX inspired other Detroit stations such as WKNR-FM and 101.1 WXYZ-FM to adopt the progressive-rock approach. "Air Ace" Dave Dixon was a musician himself who co-wrote the Peter, Paul and Mary hit "I Dig Rock and Roll Music."
During the 1970s, WABX evolved into a more mainstream album oriented rock station, albeit one that took a softer, more laid-back approach than its competitors. The station was branded as "WABX 99" during this era with a logo similar to the one used by the current WABX station in Evansville, Indiana, featuring yellow lettering on a black background. The station's studio also moved from its original location in the David Stott Building in downtown Detroit to a new facility in suburban Oak Park during this period. By 1982, WABX was third-ranked out of three AOR stations in Detroit (behind WRIF and WLLZ). Century Broadcasting sold the station to Liggett Broadcasting that year. Under new program director Paul Christy, WABX shifted from AOR to "Hot Rock," a Top 40/rock hybrid (known on the air as "Detroit's New Music"), playing a wide variety of new wave, pop, rock and urban product with a slick, Contemporary Hit Radio-style presentation. However, the station's market share continued to decline throughout 1983, and a little over a year after WABX debuted "Hot Rock," Liggett decided to change the station's format and calls.
Class FM/99 DTX/99.5 The Fox
On January 9, 1984, WABX's long-term reign as a high-rolling rock station came to an end with the song "When the Music's Over" by The Doors, after which the station became "Class FM", WCLS, with a soft rock format. However, the adult contemporary field in Detroit was as crowded as the rock format had become, and "Class FM" was not successful. At this same time, the station was sold to Metropolis Broadcasting.
The following year, the station became WDTX, reverting to a rock-based CHR format meant to be a radio version of MTV. Eventually, the format evolved into mainstream CHR. In 1988, the station changed its call letters to WDFX, known as "99.5 The Fox". Part of the branding for this format included a logo with red lettering and a fox tail coming off the letter X. A cartoon fox was featured on some logos wearing a checkered shirt reclining on "The Fox" logo while holding a keytar. For a short time, The Fox tweaked its CHR format into "Rock 40," a variation of Top 40 heavy on hair bands and other rock-oriented acts, and saw its ratings slide after a promising beginning.
Afterwards, The Fox tweaked its format back to mainstream CHR, and at the same time, added some hip hop to compete with Power 96. Ratings did improve and the station posted frequent Arbitron top 10 showings in the late 1980s and early 1990s - but advertising revenue was poor and, in September 1990, the station went into receivership. In addition, WDFX's ratings were adversely affected (as were WHYT's) by the debut of modern rock station 89X in 1991.
On December 24, 1992, the station started stunting by having a character named "Cowboy Hugh Chardon" (played by Dr. Don Carpenter) play "Friends In Low Places" by Garth Brooks repeatedly (for his good buddy Bobby Stalls in Birmingham) and try to kill "The Fox" using various methods suggested by "listeners". This was followed by an automated countdown that started at Midnight on Christmas Day, beginning with 63,752 and ending with number one on December 28, 1992. (This was apparently done so they could rebuild the studios.) Instead of changing formats when the countdown ended, it stunted for another week with a six-hour loop of novelty songs they called "goofy loops" played repeatedly. This continued until the early morning of January 4, 1993 (the first Monday after the holiday week), when the station finally finished changing formats and became "99-5 WOW-FM" WOWF (the call letters had actually been in place since October 1992), a news/talk station with broadcasters such as Art Vuolo and Ed Tyll coming to the station. However, by popular demand, the "goofy loops" track was brought back at weekends for the life of the station.
WOWF promoted its news/talk format as an alternative to WWJ-AM by touting the station's FM signal as clear and static-free, including using the Steely Dan song "FM (No Static at All)" in their promos. However, the station could never make any significant inroads compared to the venerable CBS Radio affiliate, and in less than five months' time, the news/talk format was abandoned for a new one.
Young Country/99.5 WYCD
A few months later, on May 28, 1993, at 4 PM, the station abruptly dropped the talk format in favor of "Young Country", with the first song being "Young Country" by Hank Williams Jr.. Part of the branding for this format included the logo for Young Country with red and blue lettering and blue background and a star in the middle of the word "Young". Dr. Don Carpenter was one of the few airstaff that remained from the "Wow FM" format. Other personalities included Joe Wade Formicola (mornings), Jyl Forsythe (middays), Su-Anna (nights) and Brian Hatfield (overnights). WYCD positioned itself as a younger-leaning alternative to crosstown W4 Country. The format kept its talk element and combined it with younger sounding country music and created "Morning Shows" all day that highlighted listener calls, tons of requests and fun jock talk. It was all a part of owner Alliance's "Young Country" concept that it had on the air in Dallas, Seattle, and San Francisco. Although W4 Country typically had higher ratings with country than did WYCD, lack of advertiser revenue led W4 Country to switch to a classic rock format in September 1999.
On February 16, 2001, WYCD dropped the "Young Country 99.5" moniker in favor of "Country 99.5". By late 2002, the station rebranded itself "99.5 WYCD, Detroit's Best Country." In June 2006, the station refinded its branding to "99.5 WYCD."
With the country format all to itself in Detroit from 1999 to 2006, WYCD has consistently been a Top 10-rated station. In the spring of 2006, WYCD had its best ratings book to date when it tied for first place 12+ with hip-hop station FM98 WJLB.
The high ratings at WYCD are probably what led WDTW-FM to switch formats back to country in May 2006. After three years of competing in the format, WDTW dropped country music for Rhythmic AC, due to low ratings, making WYCD once again the only country station in Detroit.
In 2007, WYCD was nominated for the top 25 markets Country music Radio & Records magazine station of the year award . Other nominees included WUSN Chicago, KYGO-FM Denver, KEEY-FM Minneapolis, WXTU Philadelphia, and KSON-FM San Diego.
99.5 WYCD currently ranks at #2 (7.6) in the Detroit market according to the October 2013 PPM Rating release.
Since 2000, WYCD has been the hosts for one of the largest free country music festivals in the world. The Hoedown takes place one weekend every May in downtown Detroit's Hart Plaza. It is a major showcase of new upcoming artists and some very well recognized ones as well.
The Hoedown was established back in 1983 by former Detroit country outlet WCXI-AM/FM. Its first event featured artists like Hank Williams Jr., Tanya Tucker and Mel Tillis. This event soon would attract people from all across the country. When WCXI-AM was sold by Gene Autry's Golden West Broadcasters to Shamrock Broadcasting, Shamrock's Detroit station W4 Country took over the event.
In May 2000, it was WYCD took over hosting the Hoedown. The station's first year hosting saw artists like Trace Adkins, Montgomery Gentry and Rascal Flatts. Over the years, the Hoedown has had its share of very well known artists kicking off their careers at the concert. Some of these include Reba McEntire, Luke Bryan, Travis Tritt, Toby Keith, and Lonestar, and in 1989, came an unknown artist by the name of Garth Brooks.
The audience at the event has always increased every year. In 2010, the Hoedown saw its biggest audience yet with over 1.3 million people showing up over the three-day period.
In 2010, at the 28th annual Downtown Hoedown, WYCD welcomed nationally known recording artists Uncle Kracker, Zac Brown Band, Dierks Bentley, Darryl Worley and Justin Moore, among many others.
In 2012, due to a big audience, the Hoedown was relocated to in front of Comerica Park.
The current lineup (as of March 4, 2013) is as follows:
- Morning Show (5 a.m.-10 a.m.): The Dr. Don Morning Show - Dr. Don Carpenter, Rachael Hunter, Steve Grunwald & Jason The 300lb Cowboy
- Mid-Days (10 a.m.-3 p.m.): Jack Shell
- Afternoons (3 p.m.-7 p.m.): Edwards & Lee - Chuck Edwards & Linda Lee
- Nighttime (7 p.m.-12 a.m.): Rob Stone
- Overnights (12 a.m.-5 a.m.): Kickin' It With Kix - Kix Brooks & Donna Britt
- Weekend's/Fill-ins: Frank, Holly Hutton, Bridgette Smith, Sean Varicalli & Mike Williams
- Station Voice: Brian Lee
- Creative Director: Terry Phillips
- Program Director: Tim Roberts
- Music Director: Jack Shell
- Downtown Hoedown Coverage
- Downtown Hoedown History
- Downtown Hoedown Artist List 1983–2010
- Detroit Radio Flashbacks 99.5 FM
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WYCD
- Radio-Locator information on WYCD
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WYCD
- Detroit Downtown Hoedown